Speaker: Christopher A. Walsh, M.D., Ph.D.
Affiliation: Chief of Genetics and Genomics, Boston Children’s Hospital, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Host: Dr. Mriganka Sur
Date: November 18, 2020
Talk title: One brain, many genomes: somatic mutation and genomic diversity in human brain
Abstract: Although it had long been assumed that the genomes of all neurons are identical, recent work has shown that every cell division causes mutations even during normal development, and that postmitotic neurons continue to accumulate mutations throughout life. Clonal somatic mutations create a mosaic brain that in some cases is associated with epileptic brain malformations and autism spectrum disorders, and may contribute to other neuropsychiatric diseases. The mutations that arise during development also represent a permanent forensic cell lineage map of the body. This lecture will discuss mutations that distinguish the genome of one neuron from the neuron next to it in human brain, and the implications for normal brain development, and neurological diseases.